Building the European Union: Prequel

European integration in our contemporary history created interesting developments in the field of international political relations. To the common person, this integration has breached the traditional idea that a political territory is a steadfast boundary for policies, governance, economy, and even culture. Indeed, practical improvements and experiences in nation-state relations also developed its theoretical underpinnings. Likewise, with the development of the theories, more likely will practice be the same.

The article centers on the role of the theories, and development, of functionalism and neo-functionalism in the creation of the European Union and the processes it went through. First, we shall define the key theories involved in the analysis for the integration of Europe: functionalism and neo-functionalism. The former, we shall try to define as a social theory - how it was used for the traditional concept of the nation-state and the relation it brings to the individual. The latter will be dealt with contemporary handling as it is widely accepted among the international political science circle that this is the primordial theory utilized in the creation of the European Union.

Functionalism is a theory that bases itself in the idea that a social system is similar to that of a biological organism, such that an organism, or society for that matter, is made up of several components that are interrelated and contributes to the maintenance of the whole. Order is achieved because of the interrelation of the parts and the specification of forces that bring cohesion, integration, and equilibrium. (Mc Lean, 1996: 196-197)

Because of this basic theorem, functionalism is viewed as positivistic. In a more precise way, functionalism presented four basic institutions in the social realm: economics, social control, education, and political organization. The society has the capability to politically integrate its members through socialization, and that the society has the ability to sanction its members who may be doing "dysfunctional" things. (Anderson, M. and Taylor, F., 2005: 18)

Governments, therefore, have the function to maintain the order and balance in the society. In western societies, functionalism was used to justify economic systems and policies for the maintenance of balance. Criticisms to functionalism actually stem from this emphasis of order and equilibrium. It failed to admit the dynamic system of society as it merely described the systems and not ascribed their role for social changes. As such, various authors described functionalism as a static theory of society.

Neo-functionalism meanwhile, while ascribed largely for European integration, is a theory which was developed in the mid-twentieth century by American and western Europeans scholars in the view of a supranational body that is necessary for regional integration. This theory must not be confused with functionalism because the two are mutually different of each other, despite the fact that, in much sense, neo-functionalism builds on the former. In fact, neo-functionalism has been ascribed as a theory of integration.

As a process - integration - as defined in the theory, would achieve a gradual withering of the power of nation-states, as functions of government directly pertinent to the welfare of Europeans came more and more to be performed by the international agencies. European institutions, for that matter, would foster a governing elite free of national ties, and become the focus for interest groups and popular loyalties. (Mc Lean, 1996: 340) On the most basic sense, Mitrany (1943), cited by Ray, J.L., said that the integration of independent states could best be achieved by first creating a central organization with authority over technical economic tasks. (1998: 370)

 

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